Quinta do Vallado Douro Tinto 2016
In the heart of Portugal’s most famous wine region – the Douro Valley – near the historical center of Regua, the Quinta do Vallado vineyards, winery and guest house spread across both banks of the Corgo River at the very point where it meets the Douro. With winemaking references that date back to 1716, the Quinta belonged to the legendary Portuguese vintner D. Antonia Adelaide Ferreira, and has remained in the family through modern times.
The current owners, Joao Ferreria Alvares Ribeiro, Francisco Ferreira and Francisco Olazabal, are the sixth generation of this remarkable family, and the family’s mission to produce some of the best still wines of this fertile valley continues with the red blends and varietals that are exported worldwide. Of the 38-hectare Estate, 26 hectares are filled with vines 60 years and older. It is from these vines that Quinta do Vallado’s Red Reserve and Touriga Nacional wines are made, so it is no wonder that the wines are often found to be rated and reviewed among the best wines from the Douro.
Best known for intense, impressive and age-worthy fortified wines, Portugal relies almost exclusively on its many indigenous grape varieties. Bordering Spain to its north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean on its west and south coasts, this is a land where tradition reigns supreme, due to its relative geographical and, for much of the 20th century, political isolation. A long and narrow but small country, Portugal claims considerable diversity in climate and wine styles, with milder weather in the north and significantly more rainfall near the coast.
While Port (named after its city of Oporto on the Atlantic Coast at the end of the Douro Valley), made Portugal famous, Portugal is also an excellent source of dry red and white wines of various styles.
The Duoro Valley produces full-bodied and concentrated dry red wines made from the same set of grape varieties used for Port, which include Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Spain’s Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão, among a long list of others in minor proportions.
Other dry wines include the tart, slightly effervescent Vinho Verde white wine, made in the north, and the bright, elegant reds and whites of the Dão as well as the bold, and fruit-driven reds and whites of the southern, Alentejo.
The nation’s other important fortified wine, Madeira, is produced on the eponymous island off the North African coast.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.